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Rachel Hunt
Reading Room
Bookbinding Career
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Reading Room

While many visitors to the Institute come to consult the collections or view exhibitions in the gallery, a number of visitors also come to see what Rachel Hunt, a well-known daughter of Pittsburgh, has created and to enjoy this lasting impression of her interests.

Reading Room, Hunt Institute. Photo by Frank Reynolds.

The Reading Room, an elegantly furnished library space, houses a portion of the Library collections and is used for presentations, such as lectures and book talks, made to visiting groups. The Reading Room furnishings include the following:

Three golden/green rugs woven in a floral pattern showing flowers common to western Pennsylvania gardens; the rugs were designed and woven for this space in 1960 on 16th-century French looms in Aubusson
A Rouge Surmont marble fireplace, with Louis XV gilt chenets (ca. 1730), from Chateau de Trelon, near Paris, which was being torn down for a new highway
Vases on mantle, made of spar mined in England
Celedon lamp, early 19th-century China (Chein-lung dynasty)
Reading tables and benches reproducing Provence-type originals in Mrs. Hunt's own library
Choir stools from an abandoned Cathedral in southern France
A green velvet writing chair, purchased by Mrs. Hunt in an auction in 1906 and said to be one of two designed for Voltaire
A 17th-century linen press
A statue of St. Fiacre, patron saint of gardening
Teakwood parquet flooring from Thailand, and French walnut walls

Off the Reading Room is a ladies' lounge, which is an adaptation of the boudoir of Empress Josephine from her chateau at Malmaison. Its furnishings include:

White silk wall coverings from Scalamandre, New York
Cornice, dado and baseboard with columns decorated in gold leaf
Special reproduction mahogany French commode, Louis XVI style
French trumeau, ca. 1800, in original gilt with original plate glass
Directoire daybed (special reproduction), upholstered in satin Jaspe fabric
Flower paintings on porcelain
A Georgian marble sink, with floral fixtures finished in gold leaf
A large rose-colored mirror
Linen wall coverings printed from the same rolls used for Josephine's boudoir

These rooms provide visitors with an insight into the taste and interests of Mrs. Hunt, giving a visual context to the collections she assembled and later donated for the use and appreciation of researchers and other visitors.


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